A multilayered approach is needed in the NICU to support parents after the preterm birth of their infant

Early Hum Dev. 2019 Dec;139:104838. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2019.104838. Epub 2019 Aug 27.


The premature birth of a child and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a distressing experience for parents, and has been associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Supporting parents in the NICU after preterm birth is critical not only for their own mental health, but also due to potential implications for their relationship with their infant and subsequent child development. This review draws from current published clinical guidelines developed to support parents in the NICU, guidelines on family centered care in intensive care units, and reviews on the effectiveness of interventions for infants and children born preterm. A multilayered approach to supporting parents of infants born preterm in the NICU is recommended, with evidence specifically for including layers of individual psychological and psychosocial support, peer-to-peer support, and family centered care. Consideration of fathers in the NICU, and areas for future research are also discussed.

Keywords: Neonatal ICU; Parents; Preterm infant; Psychological support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Fathers / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Peer Group
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Premature Birth